Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2019) 18, 669 - 673

Research article
Do Acute Exercise-Induced Activations of the Kynurenine Pathway Induce Regulatory T-Cells on the Long-Term? – A Theoretical Frame Work Supported by Pilot Data
Christina Koliamitra1, Florian Javelle1, Niklas Joisten1, Alexander Shimabukuro-Vornhagen2,3,4,5, Wilhelm Bloch1,6, Alexander Schenk1, Philipp Zimmer1,7, 
Author Information
1 Department for Molecular and Cellular Sports Medicine, Institute for Cardiovascular Research and Sports Medicine, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany
2 Cologne Interventional Immunology, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
3 Intensive Care Program, Department I of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
4 Center of Integrated Oncology Cologne-Bonn, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
5 Intensive Care in Hemato-Oncologic Patients (iCHOP), Cologne, Germany
6 The German Research Centre of Elite Sport, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany
7 Division of Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), Heidelberg, Germany

Philipp Zimmer
✉ German Sport University Cologne, Institute for cardiovascular research and sportsmedicine, Dpt. for molecular and cellular sportsmedicine, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany
Publish Date
Received: 01-03-2019
Accepted: 21-08-2019
Published (online): 19-11-2019
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Regular physical activity and exercise interventions are suspected to have anti-inflammatory effects depending on exercise modality, thereby potentially reducing the risk and progress of several chronic diseases. Alterations in the kynurenine pathway may represent a link between inflammatory responses following acute exercise and chronic anti-inflammatory properties, such as increased levels of regulatory T-cells (Treg). Here, we hypothesize that acute exercise activates the kynurenine pathway and physical fitness is associated with proportions of circulating anti-inflammatory Treg in older healthy women. Nineteen older healthy female participants (55 years (SD: ± 5.6)) completed a cardiopulmonary incremental exercise test (CPET) with spirometry on a bicycle ergometer until exhaustion with maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) as outcome. Blood samples were taken before (T0) and one minute after (T1) the CPET. Levels of tryptophan, serotonin and kynurenine were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Flow cytometry was used to identify proportions of T-cell subsets. Both, kynurenine (p = 0.003, d = 0.40) and the kynurenine/tryptophan ratio (p = 0.034, d = 0.48) increased significantly after acute exercise. Moreover, participants` VO2max was strongly correlated with Treg levels (p < 0.001, r = 0.689). This is the first study indicating a kynurenine pathway activation following acute exercise in older healthy women. The observed correlation between Treg levels and VO2max emphasizes a potential link between short-term upregulated kynurenine levels and longer-term anti-inflammatory properties of exercise. Future research is needed to clarify to what extend acute exercise-induced activations of the kynurenine pathway contribute to Treg differentiation.

Key words: Acute exercise, kynurenine pathway, immune cells, regulatory T-cells, tryptophan

           Key Points
  • The Kynurenine Pathway can be activated by acute exercise in older healthy women
  • Higher VO2max values are associated with increased levels of regulatory T-cells
  • Both findings within one sample suggest a potential interaction between acute exercise-induced Kynurenine Pathway activation and chronically elevated anti-inflammatory capacity
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